The Dead King was created by Aquaman writer Geoff Johns and artist Paul Pelletier.
The Dead King was once Atlan the Greatest King of Atlantis. He was betrayed by his brother Orin and by his people. They killed his wife and children and he and his loyalist were hunted was hunted. Within that time he forged the six artifacts of Atlantis with his arcane knowledge. He returned years later and without uttering a single word killed his brother and his queen and as Atlantis was plunged into a civil war he finally spoke after years of silence, "Let it all...die" and using his great strength sunk the great nation he had spent his lifetime building.
Major Story Arcs
Death of a King
The first mention of the Dead King happens when Vulko says to a younger Aquaman about the first king of Atlantis and how he created six powerful mystical items (currently wielded by the Others), including Aquaman's indestructible Trident.
The Dead King awakened in Antarctica, when Aquaman used his telepathy on a global scale, claiming that Aquaman is mistaken to think he is the king of Atlantis. He proceeded to destroy a research station and kill it's personal. After that he found Mera and took her to Xebel, a pocket dimension hidden in the Bermuda Triangle and used as an ancient Atlantean prison. Aquaman then travelled to Xebel to free Mera but was shocked to hear that his ancestors murdered the Dead King's family and usurped the throne. After a brutal fight (during which the Dead King manages to claim Aquaman's Trident) Aquaman freed Mera and the rest of the Xebelians but they sided with the Dead King recognizing him as the true ruler of Atlantis, except for Mera. They managed to escape to Atlantis but found it being attacked by Scavenger's Fleet. During the battle the Dead King and the Xebelians arrive and he manages to cause Aquaman to black out, using his Sceptre and Aquaman's Trident.
Powers & Abilities
The Dead King possesses vast superhuman powers and he appears to be stronger than Aquaman.
The Dead King possesses vast superhuman strength, enough to hurt Aquaman and draw blood. He was also able to tear apart a huge ship with his bare hands.
He is extremely durable, able to shrug off a huge ship that Aquaman threw at him.
The Dead King has control over ice that seems magical in nature. He can create huge columns of ice almost instantly, make piercing spikes strong enough to impale Aquaman and his armor, create very durable ice shields and conjure ice storms. He can also encase others in ice, which has the supernatural ability to "talk" to those encased.
He can function normally underwater and is able to withstand the high pressures and extreme temperatures of the deep. It's uncertain if he even requires breathing.
He was the first and greatest king of Atlantis. Upon his revival he manages to immediately convert the Xebel colony to his side and he was also able to control and use the Trench.
The Dead King's Staff
He carries a staff that looks similar to the Sceptre used to cause massive earthquakes and control the Trench in Throne of Atlantis.